Shortly after Wilberforce’s conversion to Christ, he felt the call of God on his life. He believed that the Lord was calling him to lead England in social reform- chiefly by ending the British involvement with the slave trade. To this end, he invested over thirty years of his life, and in so doing, became one of the most influential social reformers that Britain ever knew.
What is of particular interest to me concerning Wilberforce is how he viewed what he termed as the “temptations of the table,” how he viewed “...dinner parties filled with vain and useless conversation.” In one journal entry, he wrote that dinner parties “…disqualify me for every useful purpose in life, waste my time, impair my health, fill my mind with thoughts of resistance before and self-condemnation afterwards.” Apparently, Wilberforce had a singular life focus- his calling to end slavery- and in his effort to fulfill that call, he was sensitive to the many temptations and diversions that accompanied the affluence in which he lived.
Wilberforce’s singularity of purpose and his sensitivity to the allurements of the flesh are very instructive to me. First, his singularity of mind and purpose teaches me that I must foster a singularity of mind and purpose in my service to Christ. I have to train my self to embrace the call of Christ to do all that I do for the glory of God. In a like manner, Wilberforce’s sensitivity- to those things in his life that threatened his singularity of mind and purpose -challenges me to carefully evaluate the distractions and temptations in my own life; those things which threaten my own singularity of mind and purpose in my service to God. Certainly, I must be careful not to fall into “vain and useless conversation” or anything else that would could somehow “…disqualify me for every useful purpose in life, waste my time, impair my health…” and/or “…fill my mind with thoughts of resistance before and self-condemnation afterwards.”
To this end, my prayer is that the Lord will grant me both singularity and sensitivity, as He granted to William Wilberforce. In other words, my prayer is that the Lord will keep me from the “temptations of the table.”